In New York, PM Modi urges business leaders to invest in India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday pitched India as a key investment and trade destination to the global business community, highlighting the country’s economic and political strengths and pledging personal intervention to address any gaps.
Delivering the keynote address at the morning plenary of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, Modi ascribed India’s growth story to the “rarest of rare” combination of four key factors – democracy, demography, demand and decisiveness.
Modi said his government’s “big and tough decisions” to improve the business environment had resulted in the 1.3 billion people of India giving him a larger mandate in this year’s Lok Sabha elections. Referring to his government’s respect for the business world and creation of wealth, he listed its steps to spur investments, including the recent “revolutionary” cut in corporate tax and the scrapping of 50 outdated laws that were a hurdle to progress.
PM Modi attends Bloomberg Business Forum in US, speaks on corporate tax cut
Though he spoke largely in Hindi, Modi turned to English to drive home his point to the forum, being attended by more than 50 heads of state and 200 prominent business leaders.
“Your desires and our dreams match perfectly. Your technology and our talent can change the world, your scale and our skills can speed up global economic growth. Your prudent method and our pragmatic mind can write new stories in management,” he said.
“Your rational ways and our human values can show the path which the world is looking for. And if there is any gap anywhere, I will personally act as a bridge.”
Modi referred to his government’s ambition of making India a $5 trillion economy in five years and outlined plans to spend $1.3 trillion on new physical infrastructure and billions of dollars on social infrastructure, adding these represented investment opportunities for global businesses.
“From this stage, I want to say this is just the start, there is a long way to go. This journey is a golden opportunity for the global business world to partner with India,” he said.
“Today, India is in a unique position where our rapid growth enables us to cater to diverse demand. Our people are rapidly defeating poverty, moving up the economic ladder with increasing purchasing power. Thus if you want to invest in a market where there is a scale, come to India,” he added.
India, Modi said, is the best investment destination for those looking to tap a market where the middle class is aspirational and has a global outlook, where the youth make large-scale use of the app economy for needs ranging from food to hyper-local delivery, where one of the largest infrastructure ecosystems is expanding at a fast pace, where cities are being modernised, and where the defence sector has been opened “like never before” through Make in India.
The Prime Minister also said India is unique for its decisiveness despite being a diverse and federal democracy, with a focus on seamless, inclusive and transparent systems. An unwieldy network of taxes had been replaced by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime and the intellectual property rights and trademark regime had been made stronger. An insolvency and bankruptcy code had been introduced, and tax-related laws and tax on equity investments were being reformed to bring them at par with global regimes, he added.
Modi also noted India’s progress on several indices, including a 10-rank jump in the global logistics performance index, a 13-rank jump in the global competitive index and the 65-rank jump in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.
During a question-and-answer session with Bloomberg LP founder Michael Bloomberg, Modi described climate change as one of the world’s biggest concerns and said India’s lifestyle was an example for the world. “We see the earth as our mother and we don’t have the right of exploitation...We understand need, and there is no place for greed,” he said.
More than the actions of governments, the behaviour of citizens can help tackle the challenge of global warming, he said. Modi added India now planned to add 450 GW of renewable energy and the country could become a model for nuclear power if the “problem of fuel supply” is resolved.
While highlighting his government’s plan to launch a campaign on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2 against single-use plastic, Modi said India, a poor country with the world’s third largest coal reserves, couldn’t ignore this resource.
“But we can change the way of mining to ensure there is no damage to the environment. We can take up coal gasification for clean energy, and I invite the world to invest in this field for the environment-friendly use of coal,” he said.
Asked how India planned to achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy, Modi said the country would have to meet global benchmarks in laws and governance and ease regulations to increase the confidence of investors. He added that investors should be inspired by India’s democracy and a judicial system that uses English, where there would be no problem of interpretation.
He also referred to investment opportunities in the form of his government’s ambitious infrastructure plans to create next generation airports, faster trains, electrification, improved roads and tens of millions of homes. Besides, there are opportunities for businesses worldwide in value addition, food processing, organic farming, Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest health assurance scheme with a requirement of 2,000 new hospitals, and Digital India, which envisages an optic fibre network for 600,000 villages.
Answering a question on the role played by social media, Modi said this is a powerful instrument for democracy and good governance that he had personally benefited from. However, he acknowledged social media could be an “organised way to spread bad things” and fake news. He particularly highlighted the need for technology to verify information forwarded on social media.
Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global, in New York, told news agency ANI the meeting was “excellent” and that the Prime Minister had laid out plan for the growth opportunity in India.